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Trump spent $9M in February, campaign chief got pay raise

🕐 3 min read

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign paid out more than $9 million in February, spending big on political advertising, direct mail and airfare booked mostly through his own airline, according to an Associated Press review of the New York businessman’s latest federal election filings.

Trump’s campaign has so far expended more than $33 million since he joined a crowded field for the GOP presidential nomination last year. And his latest finance reports give some insight into who’s benefiting from his campaign, which has been financed by about $24 million in loans from Trump himself and another $9.5 million in donations from the public.

Trump’s filings were made public this weekend as other presidential candidates reported their finances to the Federal Election Commission. Although Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton burned through more than $31 million during the same period, Trump’s mostly self-funded campaign and thrifty spending have added to the hallmarks of the billionaire’s nontraditional campaign.

During a month in which the New York businessman won key Republican contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, Trump’s campaign spent about $3.5 million on political advertising and an additional $1.1 million on printing, design and direct marketing.

The campaign spent about $710,000 on air travel, the majority of which — about $640,000 — went to Trump’s airline, TAG Air Inc. Trump also paid $16,000 to reimburse a company owned by gas station and casino magnate Phil Ruffin for air travel; the two men are friends who have partnered on past business deals.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who is paid through his firm Green Monster Consulting, got a $50,000 payment the day after the Nevada Republican caucuses that Trump won handily.

The payment was a bump from past months.

Before February, Lewandowski’s firm was paid about $20,000 every four weeks, filings show, including a $20,000 payment on Jan. 31. But two days later— and a day after Trump’s second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses— the campaign paid Green Monster $25,000. His firm has been paid at least $335,000 so far, federal data show.

Lewandowski is deeply involved in all aspects of Trump’s campaign — overseeing operations and, at times, personally assisting security officers removing protesters from campaign events.

He has come under fire recently for his rough handling of a protester at a campaign rally and a former reporter for Breitbart News, who accused him of grabbing her arm as she tried to ask Trump a question in Florida. Lewandowski has denied the allegation, telling CNN the incident — also witnessed by a reporter from The Washington Post — was probably “made up.”

Trump’s campaign didn’t respond Monday to emailed questions about the expenses listed in federal filings, as well as the increase in money paid to his campaign manager.

Other big-ticket expenses last month from Trump included more than $540,000 for hats, T-shirts, stickers and coffee mugs. The campaign also paid San Antonio, Texas-based Giles-Parscale about $530,000 for website development and digital consulting, reports stated.

The filings also reveal some oddities. For one, Trump’s campaign directed money to a firm that’s working for his rivals.

Trump’s paid about $21,000 to digital media firm, Targeted Victory, for merchant fees associated with its online donation software. The same month, federal filings show the company was also paid for list rentals by Our Principles PAC, one of the main anti-Trump groups airing millions of dollars in political advertising attacking him.

Targeted Victory has also been one of the top media buyers for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign, which has aired several attack ads against Trump. So far, the Cruz campaign has paid Targeted Victory nearly $3.5 million, federal campaign filings show.

Targeted Victory co-founder Michael Beach said the relatively small-dollar payments from opposing Republican groups, like Trump and Our Principles PAC, aren’t unusual for the company, which allows many conservative candidates and groups to purchase access to its digital fundraising products.

“All of our software is open to anyone on the center-right to use,” Beach said.

Associated Press writers Jeff Horwitz, Jack Gillum, Jill Colvin and Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.

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